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What EXACTLY cause Voldemort's soul piece to split off when he killed Lily and tried to kill Harry?

How Would Harry Breaking the Unbreakable Vow Have Affected the Piece of Voldemort's Soul?

We know that apart from Harry and Nagini - all the other pieces of Voldemort's soul were enclosed in some container. So why did the soul that split when the Killing Curse rebounded attach itself to the only living thing? Moreover - since Voldemort had other Horcruxes to keep him from dying - why didn't it attach itself to Voldemort himself? We know that the piece of soul in Slytherin's locket put up a fight to leave the container. How then did the last piece leave Voldemort's body and attach itself to Harry's?

  • One speculation is that Voldemort was trying to create a horcrux on the day he decided to destroy Harry, and was the reason why his soul (being unstable as it is) broke off at that particular time. However, the reason is not much clear. See the question and it's answer here: scifi.stackexchange.com/q/40843/13716
    – user13267
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 10:55
  • 1
    Because it is a 'piece of soul' which needs a living being to live in and not an Horcrux which just needs to be contained somewhere...
    – Möoz
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 22:42

2 Answers 2


It attached itself to Harry because he was the only living soul.

The piece of the Dark Lord’s soul embedded itself in Harry because Harry was the only living soul in the room. Disembodied souls naturally only would be able to stay in other living things. They’re only able to stay in inanimate objects when they’re deliberately sealed into them by the spell used to make a Horcrux. The piece that broke off of the Dark Lord, however, wasn’t deliberately encased in anything, so it stuck itself in the only living soul nearby.

“Tell him that on the night Lord Voldemort tried to kill him, when Lily cast her own life between them as a shield, the Killing Curse rebounded upon Lord Voldemort, and a fragment of Voldemort’s soul was blasted apart from the whole, and latched itself on to the only living soul left in that collapsing building.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33 (The Prince’s Tale)

This bit of soul is different than a Horcrux, because in making a Horcrux, the wizard creating it intentionally encases it in an object using a spell. Pieces of soul don’t naturally attach themselves to inanimate objects, they tend towards wanting to embed themselves in something living.

“Killing rips the soul apart. The wizard intent upon creating a Horcrux would use the damage to his advantage: he would encase the torn portion –’

‘Encase? But how –?’

‘There is a spell, do not ask me, I don’t know!’ said Slughorn, shaking his head like an old elephant bothered by mosquitoes.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)

The other instances of souls finding new hosts indicate that it’s much easier for soul pieces to enter living hosts on their own, without the magic required to seal them in an inanimate object. Even pieces already sealed in a Horcrux can temporarily possess living people. Though the soul piece in a Horcrux is dependent on its object, it can still possess other bodies, though not objects.

“The bit of soul in that diary was possessing Ginny, wasn’t it? How does that work, then?’

‘While the magical container is still intact, the bit of soul inside it can flit in and out of someone if they get too close to the object.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 6 (The Ghoul in Pyjamas)

When he was ripped from his body, the Dark Lord could also possess bodies, of humans as well as animals. He likely couldn’t possess inanimate objects, though, it seems limited to living bodies.

“Only one power remained to me. I could possess the bodies of others. But I dared not go where other humans were plentiful, for I knew that the Aurors were still abroad and searching for me. I sometimes inhabited animals – snakes, of course, being my preference – but I was little better off inside them than as pure spirit, for their bodies were ill-adapted to perform magic … and my possession of them shortened their lives; none of them lasted long …”
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 33 (The Death Eaters)

This also explains why the piece of soul didn’t just reattach itself to the Dark Lord - he was ripped from his body, so at that point he provided no body for the soul piece to attach to.

“Aaah … pain beyond pain, my friends; nothing could have prepared me for it. I was ripped from my body, I was less than spirit, less than the meanest ghost … but still, I was alive.”
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 33 (The Death Eaters)

Therefore, the piece of soul that fractured off the Dark Lord’s couldn’t attach itself to an inanimate object, and it couldn’t reattach to the Dark Lord as he was bodiless. Harry was its only choice.


Why didn't it attach itself to Voldemort?
When the curse rebounded, Voldemort's current body was destroyed & a part of his soul split. Hence there was no Voldemort's body to (re)attach itself.

As for the reason the soul went into Harry's body & lets say not the cradle or the mattress or walls of the house because some kinds of dark magic has to be performed to store(remember 'store' is very different from 'attach') the soul in an inanimate object.

Attaching a soul into a living object is very much like a parasitic process. Additional dark magic will make the process quicker.

As for How the soul split, the answer is presented in the linked question no?

  • 1
    JKR has said that the reason Harry is not a Horcrux (regardless of what Dumbledore says to Harry in the Kings Cross chapter of Deathly Hallows) is because the spells that create a Horcrux were not performed on Harry. How do you explain the attachment of the fragment of Voldemort's soul to Harry's soul when no magic was performed? How do you know the process is parasitic and that dark magic speeds up the process? I'm not saying you're wrong -- I'd just like verification for these assertions. :) Commented May 7, 2014 at 6:08
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    @Slytherincess there are none from my side. How to make a Horcrux is never mentioned anywhere in the books nor by JKR. But the parasitic theory is the most probable one in a living thing. Since living body is a natural container for a soul. Much like a demon possession. Commented May 7, 2014 at 6:25
  • @Slytherincess About the speeding up bit, the reason i think is, because Voldy totally controls Nagini because she was a made horcrux but in case of Harry, Voldy is just like a parasite, his "possession" of Harry starts growing slowly everyday Commented May 7, 2014 at 6:31
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    @mustard 1. A part of Voldemort's soul latched itself onto Harry's body is an indisputable fact. 2. I think ur theory works only in the case of original soul from which these small parts are drawn. ie the original soul present in Voldy's body will attach itself to another living creature until it finds a body for its own. But since these horcruxes contain a part-soul removed from original soul, that part-soul will be destroyed with the object/living creature. Commented May 7, 2014 at 8:13
  • 2
    @mustard an example would be Quirrel(spellcheck?). Voldy's original soul was in his body but when Quirrel died that soul escaped to & was not destroyed Commented May 7, 2014 at 8:14

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